Q&A: Journalist Mark Joyella talks social media

Posted by Tracy Shea on March 21, 2014

I recently caught up with Mark Joyella, a long-time journalist who has worked in New York at both Fox and CNN and in Florida at WPLG, WFTS and most recently at WFTV. To say he has experience is an understatement. He not only has boots on the ground knowledge about how a story comes together, but also has a deep connection with digital content and how stories now must have a long tail in order to break through the clutter.

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I asked him five questions to see how a journalist looks at the power of social when it comes to the information flow and storytelling.

Q: Mark, as a journalist, how do you get story ideas? How much of it is fueled by social media?

A: Stories can come from anywhere: tips, personal conversations/observation, research, news releases -- and all of those things translate into social. People tweet reporters story ideas, reporters notice stories bubbling up on Twitter and Facebook, and more and more, public agencies and companies use their social media accounts to push out content that is noticed by journalists.

Q: When a PR practitioner calls or emails about a story idea, what do you hope they have to offer?

A: When a PR person calls or emails, there's one thing I want to hear or see: a story. Not a pitch or a release or an invitation to talk to someone. I want to hear something that sounds to my journo ears like a news story. For instance, if you have an app that helps parents protect their kids, don't pitch me with a "new app that helps parents protect their kids." Sell it like a news story: "After incident at school, XYZ School System provides new app to all of the school's parents".

Q: In an age of branded content, how can a brand's story get your attention?

A: The more branded content mirrors the work a journalist would do on their own, the more likely it will translate into a story. If your branded content is "why people love Doritos -- and the people are from your TV market," I'm not interested. If your content is how your micro-lending platform helped save a local business, and you can send me a link to a great interview with the business owner, I'm far more likely to see that as an actual news story.

Q: What is the power of social media in the world of journalism?

A: Limitless. Seriously, it's everywhere. It's where journalists live, debate, research, joke -- if you aren't there, you're missing out. Not sure how to connect branded content to actual stories? Twitter's where reporters talk about what they're working on -- in their own words. Pick up the language, mix in your content and offer it up.

Q: Your source options are press release, blogger or paid celebrity. Which is a better source for you?

A: The press release has the advantage of being easily considered and trashed, or pursued. The paid celebrity sounds like torture to me -- difficult to work with and surrounded by annoyances like handlers and such. A blogger -- already in the business of producing content and providing it to an audience of consumers -- speaks my language.